Leelanau County Road Commissioner Facing Growing Calls for Resignation

Our news crew confronted a Leelanau County road commissioner over his use of a racial slur at a meeting earlier this week.

Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle said black lives matter is “trying to take the country away from us.”

He also used a racial slur to blame the coronavirus crisis on people from Detroit.

Calls for Eckerle’s resignation grew again on Friday.

We tracked down Leelanau County road commissioner Tom Eckerle at his home near Suttons Bay Friday morning where he didn’t deny using a racial slur at a recent road commission meeting.

“No, I don’t have nothing to say to the news because the news can’t get it straight anyway,” said Eckerle.

9&10 News also received questions about freedom of speech relating to Eckerle’s comments.

Ferris State professor Dr. Christian Peterson says while the U.S. enjoys broad freedom of speech, there are limits.

“If you look at someone like Thomas Jefferson, a vigorous defender of free speech, he would not have made the argument that you won’t suffer the consequences over what you say, but it’s more that you don’t end up in prison,” said Peterson.

As for Eckerle, he also didn’t want to discuss the growing number of people calling for him to resign.

Eckerle’s fellow road commissioners are now calling for him to step down.

State Senator Curt VanderWall released a statement Friday that reads: “Racism is totally unacceptable in our society, and Commissioner Eckerle’s use of a racial slur is shocking, appalling and cannot be tolerated. He should resign immediately or the county should begin actions to have the governor remove him from office.”

And the governor’s office released this statement Friday that reads: “Governor Whitmer believes that Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle must resign immediately. His comments are atrocious. The Governor has been very clear – there’s no place for hate and racism in Michigan.”

The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners is set to meet on August 18th, Eckerle’s comments will almost certainly be a topic of discussion.

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